September’s trip was quick, but scenic, as I got the chance to experience Indian summer in central Ohio. I started in Columbus and drove southwest, quickly exchanging the cityscape for miles of still-green trees, slightly browning prairie grasses, and late-blooming wildflowers lining the highway. It was a very pleasant two-hour drive to Mason, OH. Mason is probably most well known, at least to kids in the surrounding states, as the home of King’s Island, a popular amusement park. A lesser known fact is that the Mason Public Schools are responsible, in part, for the elementary education of George Clooney. I wasn’t there for roller coasters (although I passed by the nearly empty parking lot and considered how short the lines must be on a weekday with the kids back in school) or a Clooney pilgrimage, but to meet with Larry Vanover at Bush Truck Leasing, Inc., a NationaLease Member.
Larry gave me a tour of their impressive facility and told me about the variety of services they offer their customers, including leasing, logistics services, and upfitting of specialized vehicles. We discussed some of the services that NationaLease offers as well, such as our Remarketing services to help customers and members buy and sell used trucks, our recruiting resources, including our partnership with Universal Technical Institute, and our latest technology offering, NationaLease Fleet 20/20TM, which allows our customers to view, manage, and report on their fleets. As I left Mason heading back toward Columbus, I passed King’s Island again, and after a brief deliberation decided I really wasn’t dressed for roller coasters.
The next morning, I had a shorter, but no less pleasant, drive to Lancaster, OH. This town with a population of 40,000 boasts a surprising number of well known former residents from Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman to Malcolm Forbes. I was there to meet with another important resident, Travis Van Atta of Fleetlease, LLC, a NationaLease Developing Member. Travis gave me a tour of their shop and their offices, as he caught me up on the growth that they have been experiencing. We stopped in to chat with Aaron Noland, who was in the middle of a large software conversion, so didn’t have much time to talk. Travis and I also reviewed a number of the NationaLease programs available to our members, and discussed the upcoming Sales Meeting in New Orleans.
Before I left Lancaster, Travis gave me the good advice to find a Cameron Mitchell restaurant for dinner. I hadn’t heard of Cameron Mitchell before, but wisely took Travis’ advice, and mapped the nearest one on my GPS. Cameron is a local entrepreneur who opened his first restaurant, Cameron’s, in Columbus in 1993. The American bistro impressed Columbus residents with its food as well as its extraordinary service. Since then, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants has grown to 31 restaurants in 12 states. I was headed toward Gahanna, OH, a quaint suburb just northeast of Columbus, known as the Herb Capital of Ohio. It is also the setting for one of the newest Cameron Mitchell restaurants, The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek. At 7:00 PM on a Thursday, the wait was two hours, so I found an empty seat at the bar, ordered the pecan crusted trout, and watched the hustle and bustle of the very busy waiters and bartenders as they tried to keep up with the constant influx of diners.
The end of summer is always a bit nostalgic for me. It is a bittersweet time of year. I feel a tinge of sadness as the long, sunny days of summer begin to shorten, but that melancholy is tempered with the feelings of excitement that go back to the days of a new school year, promising new friends, new discoveries, and new adventures. There’s an old campfire song that goes, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” I feel very fortunate that I get to do exactly that on every trip; make some new friends and visit my old ones. As our NationaLease members grow and expand, we value the relationships of the fellow members, customers, and suppliers who have been with us for years, and we are grateful for the new relationships we get to build. So whether you’ve been with us since 1944, or just 2015, thank you for being part of our circle of friends, and I look forward to all the adventures we will have together.